By Jane Carroll Andrade
Writer, photographer, event planner. These are just a few of the assignments Morgan Blanchard Robertson tackles during a typical day.
Like a lot of legislative staffers, she juggles multiple jobs and complete a week’s worth of tasks in a single day, especially during session.
“The first thing I do is monitor the media,” says the communications specialist for the Louisiana Senate. Her office keeps copies of all news articles pertaining to bills and senators on file. It helps them understand and stay ahead of the issues that are resonating with the media and the public.
Next, Robertson prints out the agenda for the day, highlights important bills and follows them through the process. When a bill passes, she often writes a press release about it for the sponsoring senator or senators, and distributes it to their districts and statewide. She might follow that by writing a speech.
“Some senators like word-for-word speeches, others just like talking points,” she says.
Every other day, she puts on her photographer hat to take photos of the continuous stream of events and ceremonies characteristic of the Louisiana Senate and statehouses across the country.
“Today was NASA day. We had astronauts here, so that was cool,” she says.
Even cooler, last year singer John Legend made an appearance on the Senate floor to advocate for criminal justice reform.
“You get to meet interesting people,” Robertson says. She made sure someone took her photo with the Grammy winner that day.
Robertson also helps plan events, such as the annual Military Family Day, which honors fallen soldiers and their families. She does everything from contacting the families to ordering flowers and balloons to making sure there are enough chairs.
She says her favorite part of her job is also its most challenging: It’s something new every day.
“We work for 39 members and we have to know all of their voices, everyone from the conservative member from north rural Louisiana to the Democrat from New Orleans.”
The job certainly requires being able to go with the flow. Counting special sessions, Louisiana has held nine sessions since January 2016. During that time, Robertson also managed to go to law school, from which she graduates this week.
“What inspired me was watching way too many episodes of 'The West Wing' and wanting to be like Josh,” she laughs.
But seriously, being around all that lawmaking has rubbed off.
“You gain a knowledge and appreciation of the law,” she says. “Even in my first year of law school, my professors would mention a law and I would know the latest status.
“They stopped calling on me,” she adds with a laugh.
While she’s not yet sure what she’s going to do with that law degree, Robertson is happy, at least for the time being, serving as the voice of Louisiana’s state senators.
Jane Carroll Andrade is a communications program director and liaison to the Legislative Information and Communications Staff (LINCS) association.